An employee-free Aliant?

What are the chances that Aliant, after operating without its employees for these many months, will simply decide to do without employees altogether? Could they simply decide that it’s better to offer poor (or no) service, without the “hassle” of actual employees, in perpetuity?


timhamming's picture
timhamming on August 26, 2004 - 12:13 Permalink

It seems to me that this situation already exists. I Challenge the whole of PEI to post any changes in Aliant’s service since the beginning of the strike. I seem to remember getting a letter stating that I now have the benefit of using 200 Minutes of daytime Long distance per month at no extra charge. That was a real kick in the pants, wasn’t it????

Ken's picture
Ken on August 26, 2004 - 14:38 Permalink

That is my fantasy. As a contractor I could work for Aliant on my own terms, negotiate my own contract, and finally work in the maritimes!
Instead I’m contracting thru Nortel to AT&T Wireless in Indiana. Working on some cool UMTS stuff though!

Bring me home Aliant!

Lisa Howard's picture
Lisa Howard on August 29, 2004 - 12:19 Permalink

I don’t think you’re being very realistic, Ken. Every time employees lose a fight like this, you or someone like you may benefit in the short term, but the fact remains that in the long term even freelancers (especially freelancers in the decadent west) stand to lose. Soon they’ll be outsourcing all the jobs, including yours, to Ethiopia or Hungary or wherever they can pay people low wages and get away with it. I guess I shouldn’t complain since I live in Hungary, but I find the whole thing somewhat unethical as well as being totally impractical.

Ultimately, ‘management’ may have to realise that the only way to keep capitalism going is to have enough consumers to buy the goods that are being made so cheaply. If they keep firing all the workers, then there won’t be enough disposable income around to keep the economy going.
Also, capitalism used to be good at certain things. It used to not only be good at producing wealth (for societies as well as capitalists), but it was also good at making technological progress possible. To take the example of the industrial revolution (in bastardised form of course because it’s been some time since I read up on this): first they had labourers (artisans) in shops each of whom made complete products and had specialised knowledge (e.g. they made shoes). Then they had labourers in a factory each of whom made parts of products which were later assembled to make the shoe/widget/car/ whatever. This was more efficient and created more wealth. Then, a lot of factories had machines to do the work of human beings (or that was the idea). That is, machines gradually take the place of people.

Unlike some people, I see this as a good thing. I think it’s better in the long run if human beings don’t have to do a lot of drudge work. So even though people were fired to enable technological progress, I think the goal was worth it provided there was some way to redistribute wealth and relocate the people. Unfortunately, the owners of multinationals seem to have now realised that if a country is poor enough, you can get people to work for less than it costs to run an workerless factory (i.e. an automated one). This it would seem undermines the technological advance I outlined above. So I’m wondering whether it wouldn’t be better for everyone if we didn’t just share the work saving technology with other nations. This would increase wealth everywhere more evenly and would probably provide more consumers. Instead we seem to be creating two classes of people: one class who lives in a rich country (the buying class) and who does little drudge work and another class (the working class) who lives in a poor country and does all the drudge work that used to be done by machines.

I also wonder whether to help us move in this direction we shouldn’t be campaigning to have all borders open (as they are in the EU). This allows people to move and makes it easier for workers to put pressure on companies to pay the same wage everywhere. This should improve the incentive to create labour saving technology. So, for example, in Hungary, if people don’t like the wage they’re being paid, they can conceivably move to where wages are higher (in Vienna, say). In order to prevent a major brain drain national governments might then try to ensure a decent minimum wage. Or companies trying to pay a low wage might discover that it would be harder to find qualified workers where wages were low. Of course, this is all speculation on my part… Anyway, I think people need to start thinking about the global long term consequences of lots and lots of short term self interested decision making. And maybe we need to find some way to start making decisions that are less short term less local and less self interested.

Ken's picture
Ken on August 30, 2004 - 21:51 Permalink

Plumbing can’t be outsourced to another country, and telecom offices & cables & cell towers are like plumbing. They need hands on. Now, engineering, that can be outsourced and is being outsourced from Aliant to Bell Canada (from what I hear). But no matter how much remote configuration is moved away from the local network, there remains a need for local technicians to physically connect and replace wiring and cards.

I think outsourcing is linked to social justice on a world scale, and that the world is a safer place when high paying jobs are evenly distributed around the world.

Deb's picture
Deb on September 2, 2004 - 12:39 Permalink


you seem to be a bet behind the times. Do you nor realise the days of cards in the CO is mgoing to the way side with the introduction of VOI proticol. Then who will need you. Better take that plumbing course.